New Age vs. Neo-Paganism

This week’s question from the Pagan Perspective YouTube channel is about the differences between “New Age” and “Neo-Paganism”.

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Topic for the Week of 8/5: I’d love to hear your thoughts on the New Age community! I know that Neopagans get lumped in with that community a lot, so I’d love to hear your thoughts on what makes you different and where you think the line is drawn between the two communities, but also what you share in common.

I want to precursor my response to this one with a bit of a disclaimer. You’re going to find that there’s avast array of different opinions on this particular topic. These are my personal opinions.

Ok, so here we go…

To me, the term “New Age” is an umbrella term that deals with what is very popularly called “Woo“. New Age is essentially ALL the Woo.

That is to say it deals with crystals, tarot, sacred geometry, astrology, light work, energy work, etc. Pretty much a massive conglomeration of “alternative” thought.

I sort of see this in the perspective of a library or a bookstore. When you walk into a library or a bookstore, all the “Woo” is gathered together in a section called “New Age”.

Neo-Paganism is an umbrella term as well, but deals specifically with religion. It doesn’t have to include a deity to be a religion, but it does involve faith, belief, and often also worship.

In the library or bookstore analogy, Neo-Paganism would be a shelf included within the New Age section.

Many New Age things are incorporated INTO Neo-Paganism beliefs and practices, and so understandably there is a hint of blurring between the two. I think that creates a bit of confusion, but I don’t think that blurring is necessarily a bad thing, as it creates an interest and understanding within the larger community of a religious choice that would otherwise be far more of a mysterious secret.

And we all know how uncomfortable society is with what they don’t and/or can’t understand.

 

Not a Waste

Today’s meditation was ten minutes and ten seconds, and focused entirely upon the breath and the reasons why the breath is so often the focus of meditation practices.

It was very relaxing, and a topic that I’ve never really considered before. I’ve always followed the breath because the breath is how I was taught as a child to to ground myself, and from a very young age I’ve been doing this naturally when I cry. (I have a habit of holding my breath for extended periods when I get really worked up). Later in life it has become how I deal with pain an anxiety (also both in the grounding arena).

This is called Pranayama, which means to control the breath.

In yoga, this practice is used to center your focus upon the present moment. The breath is the epitome of one’s present. It does not exist in the past, nor in the future. Only in the now. So by focusing upon the breath, you focus not just upon yourself and your inner energy, but also upon -this- moment.

This makes the breath very useful in mindfulness and meditation practices, as it assists the mind in staying present instead of wandering off into musings, memories, or daydreams.

Today’s card is the Eight of Pentacles, which is a representation of manifestation, hard work, purpose, determination, and accomplishment in the area of finances, resources, and the physical world.

In the guidebook of today’s deck, the Beaver is then described with the key words of dedication, drive, guidance, success, integrity, and community.

The Eight of Pentacles and diligent beaver have appeared in today’s draw to remind me that even on the days I’m not sitting at my work table, I’m still working.   Today was a driving day, as all Tuesdays and Fridays are.  Sometimes, these days feel like a complete waste of time because I’m not physically working with my hands.

Today’s draw is a reminder that that isn’t true.  The driving days are just as important to my business, and I’m not working any less just because I don’t have tools in my hands.  It’s not a waste of time, it’s just a different aspect of running a business and without it?  There would be no business, and no success.

Deck Used: Animism Tarot